Russians have well-established opinion that everything brought from Europe is better than anything domestic. But in the same moment Russians don’t really trust foreigners.
In the Middle Ages, Russia was one of the richest counties in the word — it had the strongest army and was developed the most in terms of education, culture, manufacture, etc. A lot of events were happening to the country during the centuries — wars, reforms, revolutions which shaped it in the way it is. And one of them is a century when Peter the Great was a czar in Russia (1682-1725).
His age is renowned as a time of «European» reforms. Peter adored west countries and gave preference to him as a «role model» for changes he wanted to bring in Russia. During his time he changed:
- Chronology (The countdown became «from the Nativity of Christ; before that it was 5508 year «after the creation of the world»)
- Education system (it became profession based and required for officials and priesthood)
- Clothes (became more European)
- New alphabet
- Strong alcohol
- A lot of another cultural characteristics
This age has implanted strong belief that anything brought from Europe is better just because it is (a priori) which Russians still believe nowadays. (We even have a lot of jokes about that). Sometimes this is just a stereotype. Sometimes this true (cars, roads; in general the level of living is higher).
Second part of the statement is that Russians don’t really trust foreigners. And here we don’t have specific source or reason of this characteristic. Most probably it was shaped by Soviet ideology in 20th century which still continues its motion. It’s kind of essential part of Russian government — suspicious attitude to another countries and nations. Obviously it was shaped by thousands of attacks and conspiracies during the history of Russia. Likely we will never see some foreigner representative as a Head of any government organ.
Last point relates mostly to older generations which were touched and grown by USSR. Younger generations are more loyal to another nations due to globalization process.
Interesting fact: even old people don’t trust foreigners, they care about them. My Brazilian friend came to my hometown and settled in a host family (AIESEC program). The funniest part was that grandmother of that family was worried the most about her. Monica on internship in Russia; she was working as a teacher in a school during all January. Grandma was controlling what she wears (January in Russia, if you know what I mean), what she eats and where is she. The girl was lost one day in the town, and grandma went out to looking for her (she was 67, by the way). So what I want to say: whatever we have in our mentality and however we are shaped by different events (if we even don’t recognize it), we stay human beings 🙂